Kurt Refsnider continues to defy the odds with his  finish of 45 hours on the Arizona Trail Race 300 route. His experience on the Arizona Trail and Tour Divide show how driven he is to suffer and succeed.   Where did you grow up, where do you live now, and what do you do? I grew up in Minnesota, spent a couple years in Wisconsin, then a few more in Colorado, and now find myself in Prescott, Arizona teaching geology (and occasionally bikepacking!) at Prescott College.   When did you start mountain biking? I started mountain biking in 6th or 7th grade and did my first race in 8th grade. So I’ve been mountain biking off and on for almost 20 years now, but for a good chunk of that time, cycling was cross-training for Nordic ski racing. I also spent a few years focused on road and cyclocross racing before discovering the world of ultras 7 years ago   What was your first bikepacking experience? My first bikepacking trip was a solo overnighter in the foothills above Boulder, CO in 2007 when I was getting ready for the Grand Loop. I didn’t have any bikepacking bags, so I threw everything in a medium-sized back, strapped a pad to my handlebars, and climbed away from town. I was back at school the following morning by 9 am, excited about the prospect of more pedal-powered multi-day trips!   What Bike did you use in this years AZT 300? 2014 Salsa Spearfish XX1   What tires did you use? Maxxis Ikon EXO 2.35 rear and Schwalbe Racing Ralph SS 2.35 front. I’ve used this combo for 3 years straight in the 300 and have yet to have any sliced sidewalls! You have completed the Arizona Trail Race 300 6 times, does it ever get easier? No, it never gets all that much easier. I’ve started six times now, crashed out once, and all of those rides had at least a few hours of suffering that was almost enough to stop me in my tracks. I’ve come close to heat exhaustion some years and hypothermia in others. My knees have threatened to seize up in several editions. And if I could have easily bailed near Antelope Peak, I probably would have a few times. So no, it’s never easy, but when luck is on your side, the weather gods cooperate, and your legs and mind are excited to ride, the 300 can feel worlds easier.   Coming into the race this year, did you have any specific goals? Was breaking the 2-day mark one of your goals? A few goals were on my mind leading up to the 300 this year. I wanted to try to break the 2-day barrier, but I really wasn’t confident that this was a possibility for me. I also wanted to try riding the full distance on a more carefully planned fuel than I ever had before (i.e., more fat and protein and far less sugar and processed foods). And most importantly, I wanted to enjoy the ride. When all was said and done, all three goals were somewhat miraculously met.   Did riding with others in the first few sections of the course helped with pushing the pace, or were you just riding your own race? After having time trialed the 300 route a couple times alone, I’ve learned the importance of riding one’s own race is of the utmost importance when trying to cover big miles as efficiently as possible. A few times, I had to let Aaron and Neil ride away so I could ease off my tired legs or stop and eat a snack. On the other hand, it’s always nice to have companions with whom to chat and help the miles pass more quickly.   Everyone has a low moment, when was that for you? The rugged drainages ~240 miles in the route below Antelope Peak always put me into a serious funk as they make my legs and mind alike ache. This year, I hit that section during peak afternoon heat on the second day and suffered like never before. At the end of that section, I called my girlfriend Kaitlyn while I stopped for a snack. Apparently I told her, “Everything hurts. Except my ears. My ears don’t hurt. And my head doesn’t hurt. I don’t have a headache. But everything else hurts. And I’m tired.”   Near the end, did you know you built a pretty good gap on Aaron and Neil? I wasn’t sure exactly how much of a lead I had, but it didn’t really matter. I was pushing myself as hard as I could, and even if I could see Aaron or Neil catching me, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.   You finished in 45 hours, how excited were you with that time? Will you be racing the Arizona Trail Race again? I was in disbelief that I could possibly have ridden that fast. I recall a few years prior my goal was to make it to the finish at Picketpost bu sunset. This year I made it there by sunrise, something that I never thought possible. I’m sure I’ll race the 300 again, but after six years in a row, I’m not sure I’ll be at the start line next year. But I’m sure I’ll race it again.   Any plans on a 3rd (2009, 2011) Tour Divide run? You forgot to include 2012 on that list! I think three rides on that route was enough.   You raced the Whisky Off-Road this weekend, what other races do you have planned for this year, if any? The Whiskey was more of an experiment than anything, racing singlespeed just a couple weeks after the 300. The wintery weather made the event incredibly fun, and I’m glad I did it, but I’m done racing for now.   Any other non-race bike adventures on the books? I’m excited to do some bikepacking and exploring in Vermont and New Hampshire in May and then spend a month bikepacking through the Alps with my girlfriend in July and August. I’ve had my fill of racing for now, so riding in new places is at the top of my list.   Favorite food? Donuts. Still.   Sponsors? Salsa Cycles and Southwest Sounds and Cyclery of Prescott, Arizona


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